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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

The Twitter Manifestation

Of all of the advancements in Web 2.0 technology, the one that still sort of baffles me is Twitter. If you're not familiar with this online super-trend, it’s a profoundly simple concept: users post one-sentence updates throughout their day for the world to see. They’re not really blogs, which serve as longer, article-style rants about topics of interest, they are just simply updates. “Going to get coffee”, “On my way to work” or “I want to sleep in today” wouldn’t be uncommon Twitter updates. But why has this incredibly simple activity become so popular?

I think it’s because there is something deeply ingrained in people that want to be known. Even if it’s just a sentence or two about what you’re up to, there is something comforting about making people aware of yourself. But why is that? Why do we feel a desperate need to connect, to know and to be known? What if Twitter isn’t just a cultural trend, but an indication of something deeply ingrained in creation?

Seeing the natural inclination for humans to be known through Twitter is a relatively recent observation, but a “thought experiment” by a guy named Erwin Schrodinger back in 1935 draws an interesting conclusion about the universe and the need for relationship. Obviously, Schrodinger wasn’t studying Twitter or even human behavior, but his generation of physicists made a startling conclusion about how the universe operated—one that would have a profound impact on the scientific community. He’s now most famous for a hypothetical illustration known as “Schrodinger’s cat” that essentially challenged the idea of the old cliché of a tree falling in the woods. Why would it matter if no one was around? It’d still make the sound … right?

As it turns out, this early 20th century researcher wasn’t just a brilliant physicist (he won the Nobel Prize in 1933), he was also a fan of over-elaborate analogies. One of his most famous illustrations involved a house cat locked inside a box that also housed a mini time bomb, that could, at any moment, go off and kill the cat. (Remember, this is just a thought experiment, he never actually preformed it.) And this was no ordinary death trap: on the other side of the box than the cat (who is separated by a wall with a tube connecting each side) a Geiger counter sits beside a radioactive substance that may randomly start to decay (or may remain just fine); if it does start to decay, a sensor will detect the radioactivity, triggering a tiny hammer to smash a small container of poisonous gas that will kill the cat. As it turns out, Schrodinger also had the mind of James Bond villain. Set aside the fact that his “thought experiment” looks more like an Adam West-era Batman trap (“Holy Geiger counter Batman!”), and think of it this way: If a trigger is randomly snapped, it’s kaputs for Mittens.

Schrodinger suggested that until the box was opened, and a person actually saw the outcome (either a live cat, or one that was killed), the cat was neither fully alive or dead. In other words, until someone looked into the box to see what happened, the outcome was not decided.

Schrodinger’s experiment was meant to illustrate the curious behavior of particles on a microscopic level, in what is known as the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. Without getting too complicated, part of this theory, which has been controversially accepted by many physicists (even though Schrodinger’s example was tongue-in-cheek), says that particles behave differently when they are observed or measured by humans. The theory suggests that on a microscopic level, the actions of tiny particles change because of people observing them. Schrodinger proposed the illustration to show how bizarre the idea was that wave patterns of particles aren't decided until they are observed—but some physics still believe in the concept’s authenticity.

Of course this illustration of the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics is theoretical, but it does suggest that there is a deep relationship between how the world works, and us observing it. But even if the Copenhagen Interpretation isn't accepted by all physicists, other elements of particle science still confirms the unique relationship aspect of physics. Even Einstein described quantum entanglement (another complex principle of physics that shows the strange relationship between far-off particles) as “spooky action at a distance.”

If what this theory suggests is true (that actions can be determined by observation—or at the very least, there is a very deep relationship between distant particles and their behavior), it shows that God designed His creation—down to the particle level—to possess the need for relationship.

Whether it is people obsessively Twittering about their lives for the world to see or if is the foundational principles of complex ideas like Quantum Mechanics, creation reflects its need for relationship. Of course, for the Christian this idea makes perfect sense—it is all part of a design that points to our deeper purpose. In Genesis, at the dawn of creation, we see the Creator of the heavens and earth coming down to walk with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Before sin entered the world and separated man from God, this relationship was perfect. When man sinned, this relationship was divided—man’s action had a direct impact on his relationship with God. That’s why Jesus had to come and atone for man’s sins; He restored the relationship through the cross.

That sense of relationship—even if it is just between particles—is divine. It is part of God’s design.

And this is why Twitter has become such a sensation. It’s simply a manifestation of our need for relationship. We want people to know who we are and what we’re doing, and we want to know about other people. God designed us with the deep desire to have relationship with Him. And ultimately, fulfilling that desire is the purpose of our existence. We were created for relationship with God.

When asked what the two greatest commandments were, Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 'The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself' (Mark 12:30-31). These are the two greatest relationships we can maintain.

Outside the context of a divine creation, Einstein was right; stuff like quantum mechanics can be “spooky”. But with the knowledge of our purposeful design—one that deeply desires a relationship with something bigger—it all makes sense. Even if the details sometimes get pretty complicated.

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